It’s Okay to Feel These (Negative) Things When You Travel

Last updated on:
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure policy here.

When most people think of “traveling,” they think of a vacation: sun-kissed sand and fruity drinks, or perhaps dreamy selfies in a big exotic city. These visions are usually positive and full of fun. Because that's what traveling is!

So what happens when you leave on a trip and don't feel all these warm fuzzy feelings? Did you go to the wrong place? Did you do a horrible job at planning? Does it mean you're somehow traveling “wrong”?

The answer, of course, is NO.

Petite Anse on La Digue, Seychelles

Not every second of every trip is going to be all unicorns and rainbows. Travel is unpredictable and confusing and sometimes downright messy. And if you hit a rough day or find yourself in a less-than-positive mood, it does NOT mean that you've failed as a traveler.

To prove this point, here are some not-so-positive feelings that routinely crop up when I'm traveling – all of which are completely normal and okay to feel when you're on the road!

It's okay to feel these (negative) things when you travel


True story, guys: I get nervous before going on trips. And I don't just mean excited-nervous; I mean almost-having-anxiety-attacks nervous. And I don't just mean before big trips; I mean before just about every single trip I take.

Whether I'm traveling halfway around the world or just going a couple hours away from home, I still get anxious before I travel. I never sleep well the night before a flight, and my nerves usually follow me to the airport. There have been plenty of times when I've considered canceling a trip the night before I'm supposed to leave.

Some of my nerves stem from legit anxiety (which far more people suffer from than you probably realize!), but my point here is that even the most well-traveled of people can get nervous about traveling. It's perfectly normal, so don't think something is wrong with you if you start feeling a little scared before a trip.

Amanda sitting in front of Eagle Cliff Falls

How to deal with it: If you're suffering from true anxiety that's affecting more than just your traveling life, you might want to see a doctor. But for regular pre-travel jitters? You just gotta push through. Remind yourself that you've planned and done your homework and that you'll be absolutely fine once you get there. Never have I regretted going through with a trip – but I know I would regret giving in to pre-trip fear and canceling.

RELATED: The World is Not Safe – But You Should Explore it Anyway


I travel solo quite a bit, and while I usually revel in the freedom that traveling alone allows me, I'd be lying if I said I never feel lonely. For me, the loneliness usually hits at night when I'm stressing out over finding a place to eat on my own, or realizing it's only 6 p.m. and I have no plans for the evening.

Even though traveling alone doesn't have to mean you'll be lonely, it's totally okay if you DO feel that way sometimes.

Whiterocks Amphitheater at Snow Canyon State Park

How to deal with it: When I'm feeling particularly lonely on a trip, I try to be proactive about it. Sometimes this means hopping on Skype with a friend back home, or even just chatting to someone on social media for a bit. If it's during the day, I might join a free walking tour or a day trip, where I'm pretty much guaranteed to meet other travelers. Other times I just go somewhere where there are lots of people, like a park or restaurant or local event. Even if I don't end up talking to anyone, sometimes just being around other people can help!


Sorry to burst any romantic travel bubble you may still have in your head, but not every day is going to be exciting when you travel. You will have slow travel days and bad weather days and, yes, days where you just feel a bit bored. And that's fine!

Not every destination is going to live up to expectations; sometimes there are just duds, or places that you just won't connect with. We can't be enamored with every single place we visit, after all.

Street art in London's East End

How to deal with it: Force yourself to go out and try something new! Even if you're feeling a bit bored and like a certain destination just isn't for you, I guarantee there's something cool about it that you can still discover. My go-tos are usually food tours and street art tours if they're available – these types of tours almost always help you see a destination from a different perspective.


Have you ever arrived in a destination only to feel completely clueless and overwhelmed? Maybe there's a bigger language barrier than you planned for; maybe your accommodation isn't what you expected; maybe the public transportation is way more confusing than you thought it would be. Maybe everything just seems big and loud and weird and you're not really sure what to do.

Don't panic. This type of travel overwhelm is pretty normal, especially if it's combined with a bit of culture shock.

Inside the Oculus in New York City

How to deal with it: First of all, remind yourself that *most* travelers suffer from this. Even the ones who look like they know exactly what they're doing are often just as clueless as you are. (Isn't that the way everything goes in life, though? We all just pretend like we know what we're doing!) If you're feeling particularly overwhelmed, slow down and take the time to think about how you can approach each stressor individually.

If public transport is confusing, see if you can find a good map or a local willing to explain things to you. If you're lost, take a moment to get your bearings or ask for directions. We usually get overwhelmed when there are too many things vying for our attention at the same time, so taking the time to slow down and address each item separately can often make you feel like you're in control again.

Burnt out

Lastly, don't assume that travel burnout only affects people who travel long-term. It's not true! You can absolutely feel burnt out on a shorter trip, too. I find I run into this when I pack an itinerary too full, or when I find myself in a particularly challenging destination.

Don't stress out if you're feeling burnt out while traveling – in fact, this is when you need to listen to your body the most!

Walking through Prayers for Maria sunflower field
Taking some time to enjoy nature can sometimes give you new energy.

How to deal with it: The best way to deal with travel burnout is to just give in to it. If you're feeling so burnt out that you can't imagine going to one more museum or restaurant or famous attraction… then don't. There's nothing wrong with a day spent in your hotel room binging on Netflix and ordering room service, or treating yourself to a self-care day – things like massages and shopping exist just about everywhere!

My friend Kate has some other great tips for dealing with travel burnout.

I have experienced every single one of these negative feelings on my travels (and then some!), and it definitely doesn't mean that I'm a “bad” traveler or doing something wrong.

Even though we often view travel as something different than “real life,” the reality is that travel doesn't exist within some positive bubble. Traveling is still real life, and it's therefore not weird to feel both positive AND negative things as your explore the world.

So if you experience any of these feelings on your next trip, don't panic. It's completely normal and okay to feel these things!

READ NEXT: 8 Truths About Traveling as an Introvert

Which of these negative feelings have you felt on your travels? How did you handle it?

Pin it for later:

How to deal with negative feelings when you travel

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

55 Comments on “It’s Okay to Feel These (Negative) Things When You Travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I feel the burnt out feeling! I get that frequently now that I’m back up to traveling 200 days a year. Trying to do better about giving myself month-long breaks to rejuvenate, catch up and actually enjoy my home.

      That down time in between trips is SO important (at least for me). I also feel like I get burnt out much quicker the older I get.

    Great post! I suffer from general anxiety on the best of days, and pre-trip anxiety is generally through the roof. I’ve found that leaving myself plenty of time at the airport so I’m not rushed is important in dealing with it. Once I’m on the plane? All worries melt away!

      I’m more or less the same in that once I’m actually on the plane and on my way, I feel so much better!

    Definitely the anxiety! Every time – If I have a morning flight, I’ve taken to booking a hotel at the airport the night before I go so I don’t have to deal with the commute in the morning, even though it’s only 40-50 mins. What if there was a huge accident and I couldn’t get there etc etc…
    I also have travel dreams in the last few weeks – nightmares about forgetting my passport or camera. They feel like premonitions but I know they are like the anxiety – just St Elmo’s Fire.

      That’s so smart to just stay at the airport before an early flight!!

    I haven’t really experienced these in a way that I have to deal with them (luckily). I usually suffer from those things more in my daily life than during my travels.

      I mean, not that that’s super fun, but I guess it means you’re better equipped to handle them when you travel.

    I must say each traveler at some point of time goes through these dilemmas. Nicely explained how to get out of it and move on.

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve definitely struggled with a few of these negative thoughts when travelling, which made me feel even worse. In those moments I like to just take a breath, take a break and allow myself the time to reset. From there, I’m usually able to get back to enjoying my time and the location that I’m in.

      Yes! Those breaks are really important!

    Oh this is so timely and I’m going to save this post.
    I just arrived for my first stop in a four month (mostly solo) journey that I have been dreaming about and planning for a year.
    I had a big anxiety attack last night…what am I doing going alone around the world, leaving home, it’s too long, etc..
    I have traveled alone extensively before but two months was the max so this is a stretch.
    Thanks for all the practical tips and for being so open.
    It’s helpful knowing I’m not alone and these feelings are normal.
    Headed to Petra and Israel next…should be fabulous!!!

      These feelings are totally normal, and I think you’ll find that a LOT of travelers suffer from anxiety to some extent, too – so you definitely are not alone! But you got this and I’m sure you’re going to have an amazing time!

    Definitely have felt most of these at one time or another. I often feel like I no longer excited to go to a place when faced with all the final stuff like packing, getting up early the next morning for a flight, etc. But I always feel better once at the destination and then happy to be there! I think that on longer trips, it is definitely important to just take some time off and do very little to keep from getting burnt out, like lying in bed watching TV 😉

      For sure! I’ve come to really dread early morning flights (I always feel like I’m forgetting things the night before!), and yet for some reason keep booking them. Go figure. Haha.

    Yes so true! I also think that all applies to living abroad as well. When I first moved to Germany I thought it would all be great, I would be outgoing and see everything and love life, but then I realized that’s just not how it works. I haven’t really done many day trips at all because I decided I would just prefer to stay home. And sometimes I stay in all day and watch music videos, my time sucker of choice vs Netflix lol

      It’s definitely different when you’re living somewhere! You can’t possibly go on adventures every single day – having downtime is crucial to not going crazy!

    I think burnt out is probably the one to most identify with as a travel blogger! Possibly because travel is a lot of work these days as well as being fun 😉 The key for me is to have good downtime between trips, and to go on trips with as much work already done as possible so I don’t feel torn between enjoying the trip, and keeping up to date with everything else!

      Yes, that’s definitely the one I run into the most often! I’m terrible at getting work done ahead of time, though, so I either have to find ways to work it into my travel scheudule, or just publish a little less on the blog when I’m traveling a lot!

    Yes. Thanks for speaking up about what every traveller feels at some time. I’m a little spoilt because I always travel with my husband. If I was by myself I can imagine a few melt downs. With 2 people travelling together there is a built in sounding board for each and two minds are better than one. Even so I connect with most of the above feelings. Travellers are just ordinary people who happen to be travelling after all.

      Definitely – just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you stop being who you are! It is certainly easier when you’re traveling with someone that you get along with really well, but you can still run into some of these feelings even when you aren’t traveling solo!

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who sometimes wants a Netflix day while traveling.

      You definitely are not the only one! I spent an entire day in Copenhagen last year just binge watching Netflix, and I didn’t feel bad about it. 🙂

    I love this post! I always find that the first and last days of a trip are the worst for me. Initially, I’m overwhelmed and a bit lonely. After that first night of sleep I’m usually good to go. And then on the last day, I’m usually burnt out and bored!

      I hear ya! At least the burnout doesn’t usually hit you until the end of your trips!

    Thanks for this article Amanda! It’s a relief to know I am not alone with travel anxiety.
    I’ve been on hundreds of flights to dozens of countries and I still get super anxious before every trip. I try to lay out a plan in advance for each day of my trip, so that on days when I am feeling overwhelmed/tired/jet-lagged, I at least have a goal for my day. That doesn’t mean the plan doesn’t change, but I find it helps get me moving when I am feeling particularly anxious in my travels. If my nerves are really getting the best of me, I head to the nearest five-star hotel for afternoon tea, and that helps me relax and be ready to jump back out of my comfort zone again.

      Those are two excellent suggestions, Allyson! (And I love the idea of heading to a fancy hotel for tea when you’re feeling a little wound-up – that’s an amazing idea!)

    Great post, and I really appreciate you acknowledging that lots of people deal with anxiety!

    Last year, I had my first-ever 100% solo trip planned and I was excited and nervous about it. And then, just three days before I was going to leave, one of my dogs passed away. It was wholly unexpected and really, really awful. I was a mess. I didn’t know whether I wanted to go on my trip — I thought I might spend the entire time grieving, or feel guilty for leaving my partner and my other dog. Up until the day I left, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d go. But my partner is incredibly supportive, and he said he would be OK if I went. I reached out to one of my favorite women’s travel groups on Facebook and most people were in agreement: I should go anyway.

    Ultimately, I did go, and I am SO glad I did; I would have regretted skipping the trip. It was rough at times — especially on the one-week anniversary of Luna’s death — but I just treated myself gently, letting myself grieve as needed and not pushing myself to do too much. Instead of taking lots of day trips, I stuck to the city (Amsterdam), spending hours wandering through museums and eating long, leisurely meals. I spent two days in Bruges and fell in love with it. I think my heart needed some time away from home — and all my memories of my pup — to heal, if just a little bit.

      I’m so sorry about your pup, Kelly – that must have been really tough! But it’s good to hear that you ultimately had a positive experience once you decided to go through with your trip!

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On